Paradis Automne

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“Extraction level at 98, 99, 100%. Hydrogen extraction complete. Over.”

Sigh. Brian Verres smiled within the suit. The last mission of his quantonaut career. Accomplished! But ay, he would miss the years of tunneling back and forth through the vast expanse of the universe, collecting liquid hydrogen, and exploring what had laid beyond the reaches of mankind for millenniums.
“Perfect. Secure the canisters. Beginning tunneling procedure in 5 minutes.”
“Could you make that 10? I wanna… hang around a bit more.”
“I see. Oxygen levels?”
“20 minutes.”
“I’ll arrange for the procedure in 15. Godspeed, Sergeant.”
“Thank you. And Godspeed, Sergeant.”

This was it.

Brian’s last chance to experience the glory of space and time. He remembered when he was just a mere child, he looked up into the starry nights with awe and wonder. What lay out there? What is my place in this universe? Or the next? Oh so many questions there were.
He remembered asking his father these questions. Then, his father had responded by taking out a large, heavy book, filled with highly defined photographs of the many wonders of space.
“From Hubble IV.” He had said. All night, he would listen rapt attention to marvelous adventures of famous quantonauts who had achieved great feats throughout the far reaches of space.

The greatest memory he had was one of his father, pointing at a particular picture of a beautiful gas cloud. “ The Pillars Of Creation” , he said.
“Where stars are born, son.”
“Really?! Woah, can we go there someday?”
His father chuckled softly.
“Of course! If you try hard son, nothing is impossible.”
Then, they had laid down in the middle of the meadows under the summer starlight, free from all the light pollution, breathing in the beauty of the constellations.
“You know what Daddy? When i grow up. I want to be a quantonaut. Just like you. And i would very much like to visit the Pillars of Creation.” he said.

And lo and behold! Here he was, in the middle of it. A speck, a dot, in the vastness of the great Eagle Nebula in all its glory. Pulsing with vibrancy and color, as if it was an entity itself. An entity so powerful, it dwarfed that of those conjured up by the faithful back on Earth. Ah.. Such beauty.

“This is ground control. Sergeant Verres, do you read me?”
“Affirmative. What is the matter?”
“There seems to be a technical problem. Wave function PSI does not seem to be zooming down on your coordinates. We are currently unsure of the cause. There may be delay… …”

Brian listened quietly as the sergeant went on. He knew what was happening. He knew what was coming. Years of training under the academy had no doubt prepared him for this.

“... and as you know radio waves are not localized, and that’s why we can still contact you, but of course, we can assure that there is absolutely no… …”

The sergeant’s tone said it all. Brian knew. He was not going back.

“... … with our best engineers wor-”

“Enough” he uttered.

The understanding silence that followed was deafening.

Brian checked his oxygen meter.
10 minutes remaining. He knew what he had to do.

“Get me my wife on the line.”

“Yes sir.”

So for the last 10 minutes of his life, Brian Verres spoke to all whom he loved. His crying wife, Mary. Oh, so sweet and beautiful Mary. He told her how much he loved her. He told her to take good care of the baby growing within her.
“Bose. Call him Bose if it’s a boy. I like that name.” he said.
Then he spoke to his young brother. Always drunk. Always in trouble. For the last time, he begged him to change his ways.
And last of all, he called his father. The igniter. The person who started it all. His ageing father, weakening, slowly dying on the coma bed.
If there was such a chance….
But none an answer came. And he finished his call.

Brian checked again.
3 minutes.

This was it.
This was how he would go. This was how he wanted it to go. Brian laid back on the precious canisters and let his senses take in the entirety of the universe. His eyes, the ocean of lights surrounding him, and his ears, the lake of silence. He sighed.

“Is there anything we can do to make this as comfortable as possible?”

“Some Viva la Vida would be good.”

And as the song played. Brian looked back upon his life. His achievements, his failures, everything. And then he looked upon the beauty of the universe.

This wasn't so bad.


About the Author: 
Stephen Alvin. From Tampines Junior College. Writing furiously from Singapore!! Hope you enjoy my probable first story. Might be sending in another. (Most likely connected ;)